In his weekly radio address he expanded on the importance of Earth Day and green energy measures Maine is taking:
“This year marks the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, which we celebrated on Thursday. Earth Day started quietly in Maine back in 1970, with events mostly on college campuses.But environmental advocacy and a commitment to the land, air and water have a long history here.Maine has always depended upon the natural world to attract people and to sustain our economy.
While much has changed in our State, the commitment to protecting the environment has never wavered.
Earth Day began during the birth of the national environmental movement, when important reforms were taking hold in Washington.
Led by Maine Senator Edmund Muskie, Congress enacted the Clean Air Act in 1970 and the Clean Water Act in 1972. The laws laid the foundation for modern environmental policy and protection.Working with Republicans and Democrats, conservatives and liberals to craft forward-thinking policies, Senator Muskie changed the direction of our country for the better.
But the work to protect our environment cannot stop. Once, environmental stewardship was placed at odds with job creation and economic development.
But today, we see clearly that we can promote a strong economy and have cleaner air and water.
On Wednesday, Vice President Biden announced that Maine had won a $30 million energy grant to help make homes more energy efficient.
This significant grant will help break down the barriers to energy efficiency that many families face. There’s great potential for savings. But upfront costs make it difficult for too many families to make improvements. Through an innovative program at MaineHousing and the PUC, the federal grant will make energy upgrades more affordable.
In the short-term, the grant will create new, green jobs and give a boost to our construction industry, which has been battered by the recession. Over the long-term, Maine homes will use less energy, saving them money and reducing the amount of pollution. Families will see the benefits in their wallets and feel them when there’s less pollution in the air.
Maine is too dependent on costly, foreign oil. About 80 percent of our households depend on oil for heat. Every year, billions of dollars are shipped to dangerous parts of the world instead of staying here at home where they can do the most good.
Energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way to reduce that dependency.
Maine has been aggressive in its efforts to increase our energy independence and security. Last year, we passed an Act to Secure Maine’s Energy Future, which organized all of the State’s energy efficiency programs into one place – the Efficiency Maine Trust.
That Trust will make it easier for families and businesses to get the help and support they need to retrofit their buildings. The law sets ambitious – and achievable – goals of reducing and cutting Maine’s dependency on fossil fuels and reducing energy consumption. And we will weatherize every home in Maine and half of all businesses during the next 20 years.
The significant grant we received this week will boost those efforts. But it will also give us the opportunity to turn one-time federal resources into a sustainable program to fund energy efficiency.
You know, when I took office seven years ago, I was determined that Maine would break the grip that unstable energy prices hold on our economy. Working with the Legislature in a bipartisan way fitting of Sen. Muskie’s legacy, we have been bold in our pursuit of energy independence.
We established predictable and appropriate rules to foster the growth of new sources of renewable energy.
We have supported industry with grants that are saving jobs today, making Maine companies more competitive and reducing pollution.
And we are setting the stage for new projects that will directly benefit Mainers.
Maine’s comprehensive approach to energy policy is already paying dividends.
• With new investments;
• Job creation;
• And a cleaner environment.
For 40 years, Earth Day has been about increasing environmental awareness and inspiring people to take action to make things better.
That work continues today as a new generation of men and women follow in the footsteps of Edmund Muskie and take up the cause of environmental stewardship.